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School admission appeals draining academies

9 November 2011

Today the LGO published their report highlighting failures of admissions authorities when conducting admission appeals. The statistics in the report support the view that some admissions authorities get it wrong, but a bigger picture is being missed.

Traditionally admissions authorities were part of the local authority. However, academies can (and most do) act as their own admissions authority. For high performing academies particularly this presents a stressful and expensive problem – parents using the Admissions and Appeals Codes to put academies under enormous pressure during the appeal process.

It is not uncommon for parents to ask upwards of 30 questions before an appeal, employ a professional advocate to put their case and for individual hearings to last in excess of two hours. For an over-subscribed academy facing 30+ appeals, this results in a massive increase in cost – money that could be spent on education.

And the outcome if questions go unanswered or an appeal hearing cut short? A finding of maladministration.

I doubt this is what Mr Gove had in mind when promoting the freedom of academy status or what his predecessors envisaged when drafting the Codes.

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